By popular demand – the conclusion of the fire beetle scene

Two weeks ago I posted six (actually seven) sentences from a short story I wrote for Six Sentence Sunday.  Afterwards, so many of you wanted to know more, so I’m posting the complete scene today.  I hope you enjoy.  You can read the first installment here.


It wasn’t the bug’s fault, exactly, but it wasn’t mine, either. If I had to blame anyone for the resulting fiasco it would be Johnny Weeder. He’s the one who started the whole thing. Well, him and Mr. Windem that is.

See, Mr. Windem stepped out of the room for a moment to talk to another teacher. This, of course, presented the perfect opportunity for certain kids to act like morons, and if there was ever a moron that existed in our class, it was Johnny Weeder.

“Say, whatcha got there,” he said, snatching my slide from the table. He narrowed his eyes in his pufferfish face as he held it up to the light. “A lightning bug?”

I reached for it but he jerked out of the way, the slide held over his head.

“No. It’s a fire beetle,” I said. “Now give my bug back.”

“No. I wanna look at it.”

“But you’ve got your own bug.”

“I know, and now I’ve got yours.”

I put my hands on my hips. “Johnny Weeder, give back my bug, now!” I headed around the table.

Johnny snickered and took off. “Uh, uh. You gotta catch me first.”

Looking back, I shouldn’t have pursued him but I couldn’t help myself. He had my bug.

“Give it back, Johnny!” I said, chasing him around the lab table. The other kids stepped out of the way and gave us track room. Then they started cheering us on — half for me, half for Johnny.

Moments later, Mr. Windem returned and from the sound of his voice, he was not a happy camper.

“Johnny! Mandy! In your seats, now!”

Johnny and I both scrambled into our adjacent seats in much the same way we would in a game of musical chairs.

Mr. Windem pressed his fingertips to the desks in front of us. “What on earth were you two doing? Johnny, I expect this behavior from you, but Mandy, I’m appalled.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Windem, but Johnny stole my slide and wouldn’t give it back.”

“Is this true, Johnny?”

“I just wanted to look at it,” he said.

“Ah, geez,” Mr. Windem said. “Where is the slide now?”

Johnny shrugged. “I dunno.”

Mr. Windem rolled his eyes. “We’ll talk about this incident after class. Both of you stay here when the bell rings.” He turned around and walked back toward the front of the room. “Class, take your seats, please.”

Moans and groans followed.

“Tattletale,” Johnny whispered to me as he slumped in his seat. “I hope you get so much homework your arm falls off.”

“Yeah. Well I hope that fire beetle you’re sitting on erupts in flames and burns your butt.”

I knew as soon as I spoke the words I shouldn’t have, but there’s one thing about a magic spell — once it’s spoken, you can’t take it back. Bad thing was, Mr. Windem heard me incant the words. He turned just as Johnny Weeder’s butt caught fire.

Johnny tumbled from his seat, wailing and crawling on all fours, flames licking at his butt. At first everyone laughed, including me, but seconds later, kids ran to the front of the room, screaming. I looked over to see Johnny’s desk engulfed in flames. My mouth fell open. I turned back to the front of the class to see Johnny pinned to the floor, coats smacking him in the butt to put out the flames. Mr. Windem grabbed the fire extinguisher and doused the desk. Someone opened the windows. The overhead sprinklers went off, and then Mr. Windem escorted me to the front office.

I was home-schooled the rest of the year.